It’s a two year tour and it’s been two great years. But all good things must end as Major Nicole Malachowski leaves the Thunderbirds. Major “FiFi” Malachowski entered the U.S. Air Force in 1996 after graduating from the Air Force Academy with a B.S. in Management and a minor in French. Before she joined the Thunderbirds, she served as an F-15E Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander in the
494th Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, U.K. She has amassed 1900 hours in the air, 1700 of that in the F-15 and F-16.
She has 200 combat hours. Kosovo in 1998 and Iraq in 2005. She flew the F-15E Strike Eagle and the Bear in Back was a girl too. She was known to pull off the target and say, “You were just killed by a GIRL!!”
She calls Las Vegas, Nevada her home.
As you might know, I work Transient Alert at Creech AFB, Nevada. The airfield where the Thunderbirds practice. A while back it was my pleasure to spend a morning with Malachowski, waiting for the weather to break and she could fly back to Nellis.
Up close and personal I found her to be extremely professional and yet warm and friendly. She didn’t act like a Major. More like a Captain with money. That might sound flip, but it isn’t.
What you don’t know is that the school here in Indian Springs goes from Kindergarden to 12th grade. The school mascot are the Thunderbirds. Yes the team. Taking time from her very busy schedule, Nicole found time to come out to speak to the kids and visit with them on more than one occasion . Many of the children, especially the younger ones have taken to calling her
“Our message to the next generation is to follow your passion, pursue excellence in it, and to always dream big!”
Nicole humbly accepts her place in history as the first female Thunderbird. Well…as humble as one can expect from a Combat Fighter Pilot. I have it on good authority that she likes this picture and has it on her desk….